What happens when corruption is a factor at the start

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Sins of the past are sure hard to get rid of. They can be forgiven but there is always a price to pay. 

Ask the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) and they should have a long and interesting story to tell. It’s a story that should clearly end with a warning about how not to spend public monies. 

We say this because for some reason somehow the Corporation’s sins of the past just refuse to go away. It continues to rear its ugly head every time we want to move forward and forget about all those nasty episodes of the past.

This week, we were reminded about the fate of so-called “goldmine” at Vaitele known as the Vaitele market which the government had pumped millions of dollars into not so long ago.  

Costing an enormous $5.7million when it was constructed, the place has now become the home of a new Chinese-run business. We sure hope the new owners can make something from it to benefit the public.

From what we’ve seen in the past, the infrastructure was a total waste of public monies so that it added to Samoa’s glowing list of white elephants.

But that’s what’s remarkable about the Samoa Land Corporation.

 You see the Vaitele market is just one example of how millions of public monies have been wasted on these so-called investments that have failed. 

Up at the Tuana’imato Sports Complex, how can we forget about another $5.2million tala empty building in the form of the former S.L.C headquarters?

Think of the problems at Salelologa market and how that multi-million-tala complex is hardly utilized?

Now you really have to wonder if these public officials would have invested so recklessly if it were their own money. We doubt they would.

But it’s easy to abuse public coffers. That’s why it is a crying shame that whereas the most vulnerable and poorest people of this country are crying out for basic things like water and shelter, millions of dollars that could have been used to help their plight are rotting away in these buildings.

As it stands today, it appears that nobody wants anything to do with the Tuana’imato building. For a couple of years now, the government has been trying valiantly to find a tenant to develop the building and turn it into a money making machine. 

Nothing has eventuated so far. 

But should we be surprised that these projects have become an utter and complete waste of public funds? 

Perhaps not. You see; we believe that when corruption is involved at the beginning, failure will always be the end result. 

It goes without saying that what you sow is indeed what you will reap. 

Which is precisely what is happening. These projects were doomed from the start because so much abuse was involved. 

Now think back to the documents and evidence the Officers of Parliament Committee report had provided to the Prime Minister highlighting “corrupt practices.”

About the Tuana’imato S.L.C. building, this is what the government has been told and yet it refuses to do anything about it. Have a read:

 

• S.L.C. MAIN HEADQUARTERS (OFFICE) AT TUANA’IMATO

The variations amounting to $2,419,977.12 required to complete S.L.C’s new headquarters at a cost of $5,219,977.12 more than doubled the original cost of $2,800,000.00 approved by Cabinet and the said variations were never referred to Cabinet for approval as per usual government policy. 

The O.P.C. committee in its investigations found a lot of other anomalies including payments made to sub-contractors that the committee considered such transactions not at “arms length” as the payments made for signwriting of $120,670.00 was paid to a company which the committee was informed that the said company was owned by the Minister’s son in law. 

There were also payments made to a landscaping company of $62,500.00 that the committee believed not at “arms length” as well. 

The committee believed that the Variations were too excessive and the completed work was found very unsatisfactory given that the up-graded elevator was never in operation despite been paid an additional cost of $310,000.00 on top of the original approved cost of $180,000.00. At the end of day, S.L.C paid $490,000.00 for an expensive broken down elevator.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is just an example of what we are referring to. Half a million for a broken elevator that has never worked? $62,000 for landscaping? What about the blatant conflict of interest? 

The concern is that these issues have never been dealt with. They have never been adequately addressed. Which is funny because these buildings continue to come back to haunt the government in a major way, as if they are a perennial pain up the backside that refuse to go away.

But then there must be method in thy madness anyway. With the government doing everything and anything to sidetrack attention from this issue, it’s ironic that these things just keep popping up. 

And it will never end well unless these issues are fully addressed. 

The scary part is that many of the people implicated are still holding very power positions with the administration. That means this vicious cycle will only become worse, probably taking on a different form with a similar end result.

That’s what we think anyway. What about you?

Have a restful Sunday Samoa, God bless! 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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